Top EMS trends for 2023

Written by John Cameron, Managing Director of CB Technology

14 February 2023

2023 is set to be another exciting year in the world of technology - with advancements in robotics, AI, and digitalisation paving the way for new developments across many of the industries that our manufacturing supports. 

Here is our pick of the trends that we expect will impact EMS and OEMs in the coming 12 months. 

          1. Internet of Things and AI

In 2023, we expect to witness a further proliferation of automation and artificial intelligence in the various sectors that CB Technology works with, including energy, industry and instrumentation, communication, and medical technology. 

We have recently seen AI take over complex tasks and replace them with easy drag-and-drop interfaces. This has allowed businesses to unlock a new level of automation and productivity, enhancing what they can offer their customers. In the EMS sector, AI and automation will manifest in slightly different guises, notably in the types of electronics products CB Technology will work on. 

For example, CB Technology works with Utopi, a digital technology company, building monitoring systems using sensors. Utopi’s platform is built on the Internet of Things that links computers, electronic equipment, and sensors to create an efficient building management system. CB Technology has supported this client in evolving its proof of concept into reality. 

While smart buildings, IoT and AI are by no means new trends, in 2023, further advancements in these will impact various sectors that include the built environment, construction, and sustainability in green energy pursuits.

          2. Seeking out sustainable technology
Renewable and low carbon energy will provide the foundation of our future energy system, which the UK Government says will offer the country a huge opportunity for economic and industrial growth. 

The Scottish Government’s target, for example, is to generate 50% of overall energy consumption from renewable sources, while progressing to a completely decarbonised energy system by 2050. The wider UK also aims to be carbon Net Zero by 2050. 

CB Technology has deep expertise in the energy sector. For more than two decades CB Technology has successfully delivered electronics parts and solutions to global energy firms, establishing CB Technology as the leading supplier of electronics manufacturing solutions for use in inhospitable environments such as offshore and downhole.

For example, the ScotWind Programme, the largest off-shore wind farm project in a decade, will require EMS manufacturers with a deep knowledge of the safety and quality standards required for sub-sea systems, as well as the proven capability to produce these highly reliable electronics components. 

          3. Embracing digitalisation across business

Digitalisation is a fact of 21st century business and all businesses either require digital capabilities or rely on another business that does. Indeed, in a recent report, 61% of business leaders UK-wide reported that their five year growth plans would be at risk if their digital ambitions did not materialise. 

Digital capabilities bolster resilience and agility when navigating difficult supply chains; this in turn supports better delivery of electronics manufacturing customer service and a more robust and cost effective end product, making it to market on time. 

We expect to see advanced technology such as digital twins - that is, the digital replica of a real-life piece of equipment to test ideas in a digital environment - being utilised more in electronics manufacturing, alongside greater use of technology such as 3D printing, which maximises the insights learned from test data to further refine the design of a product. 

          4. Continued push towards local manufacturing

Thinking globally but acting locally is a cornerstone to maintaining international competitiveness and this is no truer than in the manufacturing sector. 

Partnering with a local EMS business gives customers depth of expertise, years of experience and wide-ranging high end capabilities on their doorstep. Forward thinking businesses in up-and-coming industries in Scotland such as life sciences can benefit immensely from working with a manufacturing company like CB Technology. 

However, the onus of the move towards local manufacturing is not all on the customers. As we prepare for the rise of the robotics sector, it is clear that if, and only if, the manufacturing sector in the UK is ready to embrace this development in technology will we be in the position where we don’t need to import robots from overseas. Clearly, by ensuring that the UK is a known and respected manufacturing hub for advanced technology such as robotics, the UK economy will be able to take advantage of the growth of this sector. 

A local manufacturing partner can additionally assist in shortening supply chains and insulate against the vagaries of international commerce. For example, it’s quicker and easier to speak to someone in the same time zone if a production process hits a snag. Further advantages include reducing the time from initial product design and proof of concept stage to taking the product to market; increased economic security for businesses in times of global uncertainty; and, furthermore, partnering locally boosts low carbon efforts and supports the UK’s drive to net zero. 

          5.A focus on collaboration

Collaborating with a complete manufacturing services provider like CB Technology gets the job done. As product design and development agencies increasingly recognise the advantages of this approach, we expect to see a growing emphasis on collaboration in 2023. 

A manufacturing partner needs to be there from day one in the design process to advise a customer on which components to use and which processes to employ. If a product’s mechanical design calls for 24 different types of screws and fastenings amongst its 700 parts then it is for the manufacturing services provider to highlight that this is not necessary or advisable and suggest a way of reducing this down. Similarly, if two components are too close together in the design with the risk of a solder short circuit occurring then the team can identify this as a potential problem and offer a solution. 

By working as an extension of a clients’ design and production departments, we can influence the design and build of a product from the outset, making cost efficiencies and reducing time to market while improving the quality and robustness of a product, ensuring it is fit for purpose. It’s a way of working that has served us well at CB Technology and we expect to see an increase in the demand for this sort of collaboration in the coming year. 

The outlook for the next year is certainly positive as the world emerges from various challenges with plenty of opportunities burgeoning. At CB Technology, we cannot wait to get stuck into the new projects that 2023 will bring and share more exciting news and developments as the year progresses. Watch this space!